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  If a single place-name encapsulates the LA dream of glamor, money and overnight success, it's Hollywood. Millions of tourists arrive on pilgrimages; millions more flock here in pursuit of riches and glory. Hollywood is a weird combination of insatiable optimism and total despair. It really does blur the edges of fact and fiction, simply because so much seems possible 每 and yet so little, for most people, actually is. Those who do strike it rich here get out as soon as they can, just as they always have; the big film companies, too, long ago relocated well away, leaving Hollywood in isolation, with prostitution, drug dealing and seedy bookstores as the reality behind the fantasy.
 
  Central Hollywood
 
  The myths, magic, fable and fantasy splattered throughout the few short blocks of Central Hollywood would put a medieval fairytale to shame. A rich sense of nostalgia pervades the area, giving it an appeal no measure of tourists or souvenir postcard stands can diminish. Although you're much more likely to find a porno theater than spot a real star, the decline which blighted Hollywood from the early 1960s is fast receding. Nevertheless the place still gets hairy after dark, with adolescents cruising Hollywood Boulevard in customized cars and occasional petty criminals on the prowl for the odd pocketbook.
 
  The natural place to begin exploring Hollywood Boulevard is the junction of Hollywood and Vine 每 the classic location for budding stars to be "spotted" by big-shot directors and whisked off to fame and fortune. At 6608 Hollywood Blvd, the purple and pink Frederick's of Hollywood has been clothing Hollywood's sex goddesses since 1947, as well as mortal bodies all over the world via mail order. Inside, the lingerie museum displays some of the company's best corsets, bras and panties, donated by happy big-name wearers ranging from Lana Turner to Cher.
 
  A little further on, the Egyptian Theater at no. 6708 was financed by impresario Sid Grauman, in a modest attempt to re-create the Temple of Thebes. The very first Hollywood premiere took place here in 1922. Now owned by the city, Grauman's Thebes is currently closed for renovations as part of a three-year plan to restore the fake mummies and hieroglyphics of this temple of cinema to their former glory and remake the theater into a center for film study. No Hollywood visitor will want to miss the mundane yet magical foot and hand prints in the concrete concourse of the 1927 Chinese Theatre at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. Actress Norma Talmadge trod in wet cement while visiting the construction site, and the practice has continued ever since, starting with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr, at the opening of King of Kings, and recently involving stars such as Al Pacino. Through the halcyon decades, this was the spot for movie first-nights. As for the building, it's an odd western version of a classical Chinese temple, replete with dodgy Chinese motifs and upturned dragon tail flanks.
 
  The Roosevelt Hotel opposite was movieland's first luxury hotel, its Cinegrill restaurant hosting the likes of W C Fields and F Scott Fitzgerald, not to mention hangers-on like Ronald Reagan. In 1929 the first Oscars were presented here, beginning the long tradition of Hollywood rewarding itself in the absence of honors from elsewhere.
 
  Despite the beliefs of some of their loopiest fans, even the biggest Hollywood stars have been mortal; the many LA cemeteries that hold their tombs get at least as many visitors as the city's museums. In the southeast corner of the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, near Santa Monica Boulevard and Gower Street, a mausoleum contains the resting place of Rudolph Valentino, the celebrated screen lover who died aged just 31 in 1926. To this day on each anniversary of his passing , at least one "Lady in Black" 每 as his posthumous devotees are known 每 will likely be found mourning. The achingly ostentatious memorial to Douglas Fairbanks Sr, who with his wife Mary Pickford did much to introduce social snobbery among movie-making people, is just outside. Also on view are the graves of Hollywood's more recently deceased inhabitants: an increasingly large population of Russian and Armenian immigrants.
 
  Griffith Park
 
  The gentle greenery and rugged mountain slopes that make up vast Griffith Park northeast of Hollywood are a welcome escape from the mind-numbing hubbub of the city. The landmark Observatory here has been seen in innumerable Hollywood films, most famously Rebel Without a Cause, and the surrounding acres add up to the largest municipal park in the country, one of the few places where LA's multitude of racial and social groups at least go through the motions of mixing together.
 
  Above the landscaped flat sections, the hillsides are rough and wild, marked only by foot and bridle paths, leading into desolate but appealingly unspoiled terrain that gives great views over the LA basin and out to the ocean, provided the city smog isn't too thick. One way to explore is on a rented bike from Woody's Bicycle World, 3157 Los Feliz Blvd , a short distance away. The park is safe enough by day, but its reputation for after-dark violence is well founded.
 
  Hollywood Hills
 
  The views from the Hollywood Hills take in a bizarre assortment of opulent properties. Around these canyons and slopes, which run from Hollywood itself into Benedict Canyon above Beverly Hills, mansions are so commonplace that only the half-dozen fully blown castles really stand out. On Mulholland Drive are Rudolph Valentino's extravagant Falcon Lair and Errol Flynn's Mulholland House; down Benedict Canyon is the former home of actress Sharon Tate, one of the victims of the Manson Family. Guided tours can point out which is which, but for the most part you can't get close to the most elaborate dwellings anyway, and none is open to the public.
 
  From more or less anywhere in Hollywood, you can see the Hollywood Sign, erected as a property advertisement in 1923 . The sign is also famous as a suicide spot, though few have followed the 1932 example of would-be movie star Peg Entwhistle. Hers was no mean feat, the sign being as hard to reach then as it is now: from the end of Beachwood Drive she picked a path slowly upwards through the thick bush, to leap to her death from the 50ft "H". For the first time in its sixty-five-year existence, the sign is being insured against earthquake damage. Infra-red cameras and radar-activated zoom lenses have been installed to catch graffiti writers. Innocent tourists who can't resist a close look are also liable for the $103 fine.

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